- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 23, 2014

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota officials are reporting widespread cases of the flu.

The state Department of Health says there were 332 cases of laboratory-confirmed influenza as of the middle of December. Several community outbreaks have been reported in recent weeks.

Health officials say the flu activity has started earlier than normal and it’s important for people to get flu shots as soon as possible.

Complications of influenza and pneumonia contribute to the deaths of more than 400 North Dakotas a year. Most of the people who are affected are 65 and older, but a large number of cases occur in children younger than 10.

Common signs of the virus include abrupt onset of fever, muscle aches, sore throat and cough.

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